Hello! My name is Mariya Koroleva and I am a two-time U.S. Olympian in the sport of synchronized swimming. A little about me - I was born in Yaroslavl, Russia and moved to the United States when I was nine years old. My dad was offered a job in San Francisco and we jumped at the opportunity for a better life in America. A few months after moving to California I saw a flyer for a synchronized swimming crash course in school. I had very little knowledge of the sport but wanted to do an after-school activity so I tried it out. After several practices I was asked to join the year-round synchro program with the Walnut Creek Aquanuts!
I swam with WCA all the way through high school. When I was 17 years old I got my U.S. citizenship and was eligible to compete on the Junior National Team, which began my international career. In 2008 I was accepted to swim at Stanford University on an athletic scholarship, which had been my goal for years. I loved that I would be able to get an education from a top university while pursuing my dream of competing in the Olympics. After many ups and downs and two surgeries I was named to the 2012 Olympic Duet and competed in London with Mary Killman, earning 11th place in the duet event.
After London I returned to Stanford to finish my senior year and swim collegiately for one more season. Following graduation I was excited to return to the national team but was unfortunately left off the team. I knew that I wasn’t ready to retire so I went back to train with the Aquanuts and applied to grad school. In January 2014 I started a Sport Management Masters Program at the University of San Francisco. That summer I tried out for the national team a second time, qualified for the team with flying colors and was named to the duet squad.
I was paired with Anita Alvarez to compete in the duet and in late 2015 we were officially named as the 2016 Olympic Duet. We had a whirlwind of a year in 2016 and ultimately placed 9th at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which ended up being the final competition of my synchro career. I knew that I was going to retire after Rio, which made me live in the moment and enjoy the experience that much more.
Since my retirement I’ve been working at UC Berkeley and coaching with the Aquanuts. I am one of the athlete representatives on the USA Synchro Board of Directors and am passionate about advocating for the athletes, improving the athlete experience and being a resource for young athletes in the sport.
What does the future hold? I’m not sure! I know that I want to stay involved with the Olympic Movement in some capacity and I will probably be connected to synchro in one way or another for the rest of my life.